UK health care workers begin COVID-19 hydroxychloroquine trial

The ‘COPCOV’ study will involve more than 40,000 frontline health care workers from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 21 May 2020

UK health care workers begin COVID-19 hydroxychloroquine trial

  • The trial will open to British participants at hospital sites in Brighton and Oxford
  • It will involve those who are in close contact with patients with proven or suspected COVID-19

LONDON: British health care workers will on Thursday begin taking part in a University of Oxford-led international trial of two anti-malarial drugs to see if they can prevent COVID-19, including one US President Donald Trump says he has been taking.
The ‘COPCOV’ study will involve more than 40,000 frontline health care workers from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America to determine if chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are effective in preventing the novel coronavirus.
The drugs have risen to prominence since Trump said earlier this week he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medicine against the virus despite medical warnings about its use.
The trial, led by the University of Oxford with the support of the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok, will open to British participants at hospital sites in Brighton and Oxford on Thursday and involve those who are in close contact with patients with proven or suspected COVID-19.
“We really do not know if chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine are beneficial or harmful against COVID-19,” said the University of Oxford’s Professor Nicholas White, the study’s co-principal investigator who is based at MORU.
“The best way to find out if they are effective in preventing COVID-19 is in a randomised clinical trial,“
In Britain, Europe and Africa participants will receive either hydroxychloroquine or a placebo for three months. In Asia they will receive either chloroquine or a placebo.
A total of 25 study sites are expected to be open in the UK by the end of June, MORU said, with plans for further sites in Thailand and Southeast Asia, Italy, Portugal, Africa and South America. The results are expected by the end of this year.
“We are looking at this with great care and examining all of the evidence that is out there,” Britain’s security minister James Brokenshire told Sky News.


UK relatives of Daesh ‘Beatles’ victims relieved as trial nears

Updated 23 September 2020

UK relatives of Daesh ‘Beatles’ victims relieved as trial nears

  • The evidence regarding El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey was transferred to Washington immediately after Tuesday’s court ruling
  • The pair, who have been stripped of UK citizenship, are in the custody of US forces in Iraq

LONDON: Relatives of two Britons killed by a Daesh cell on Wednesday welcomed a breakthrough that advances the US trial of two Londoners accused of their brutal deaths.
The families of Alan Henning and David Haines said a ruling by the London High Court permitting the UK government to share evidence with US authorities about the suspects was a “huge result for us.”
“We have only ever wanted to see these two men being held accountable and brought to justice through a fair trial for their alleged actions,” they said in a statement released by the charity Hostage International.
The evidence regarding El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey was transferred to Washington immediately after Tuesday’s court ruling.
The pair, who have been stripped of UK citizenship, are in the custody of US forces in Iraq.
Kotey and Elsheikh’s four-member cell was dubbed “the Beatles” by their captives due to their English accents. They are accused of torturing and killing victims, including by beheading, and Daesh released videos of the deaths for propaganda purposes.
A two-year legal impasse concerning the suspects was broken last month when Attorney General Bill Barr said they would be spared execution if convicted after trial in the United States.
The United States wants to try them for the murder of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid worker Peter Kassig, during 2014-2015.
Taxi driver Henning and former aircraft engineer Haines, who had both gone to Syria to do aid work, were beheaded in 2014.
Another of the cell’s alleged victims was British photojournalist John Cantlie, who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and remains missing.
Cantlie’s sister Jessica Pocock told of the relatives’ intense frustration at the long legal wait.
“At times we felt absolutely desperate as to whether the legal system was ever going to be able to bring these two to justice — wherever they may be,” she told BBC radio.
“That was always terribly important to us to have a proper, fair trial. The families need nothing less than a fair trial,” she said.
The US Department of Justice welcomed the court ruling and expressed gratitude to Britain for transferring the evidence, although a trial date has yet to be set.